Delivery operations can be challenging to get right, but once done well, you can create lifelong loyal customers, writes David Walsh, CEO of SmartRoutes.
Automating the delivery process can be incredibly beneficial in that respect as it improves every step of the process. While automation can sound scary or intimidating, there are so many out-of-the-box solutions that you can start implementing almost immediately to cut hours of admin time from your schedule by automating tasks.
The whole delivery process is hinged on proper planning and execution. 49% of consumers use 24-48 hour delivery services at least once a month – therefore delivery planning needs to be incredibly efficient and accurate to ensure customers won’t move to competitors. Why not make life easier by using automated tools that not only take some of the heavy lifting but can also drive efficiencies for your business? The benefits gained from using automation in your delivery processes include the following:
Reduction in Human Error
Route planning and optimisation takes the risk of human error out of the route planning process. When orders come in through an ERP system or otherwise, the next stage is to get those orders assigned to a delivery driver and route. Manually planning this can be time-consuming and can lead to human error ending with missed orders. This can then lead to customer frustration and ultimately, no repeat business. There are also limitations in humans analysing data meaning that routes won’t be optimal.
By using automation software to handle this process, mistakes are eliminated. Order information can be pulled directly into the route planning software or uploaded via a spreadsheet. The delivery route is automatically planned and optimised and then assigned to the delivery drivers based on the business’ criteria such as driver skills, load balancing, zones and so on. As orders flood in, they can be hard to keep track of and it’s inevitable that some may be overlooked. Automated route planning completely eliminates this by completely removing the risk of human error. Thus allowing logistics teams to spend their time on other more pressing tasks. This also ensures maximum work in minimal time.
Better Warehouse Management
Automation can improve warehouse operations as warehouse teams can print our pre-planned routes enabling them to better organise the warehouse. Delivery management platforms can split delivery areas into zones so teams know exactly what orders should be placed in each delivery vehicle. Deliveries are loaded into vehicles in the order that they will be delivered to ensure maximum efficiency. They can also better organise the warehouse by keeping deliveries grouped together. Equally, they can better keep track of packages that are yet to be delivered and those that were returned to the warehouse. Improved use of the warehouse space and staff leads to cost savings through reduced operational costs.
Improved Customer Service
By automating customer notifications this ensures that the information they receive is both accurate and up to date. This keeps customers in the loop about when they can expect their deliveries to arrive ensuring that they can plan to be in to receive their order. This helps to maintain your business reputation by keeping customers updated on their delivery.
Once routes have been sent to drivers, customers automatically receive a branded SMS and/or email as a customer notification, complete with the driver’s name and the estimated delivery time. In addition, customers can also be provided with a last-mile tracking link which allows them to see where their order is in real time. By giving customers this level of information, they will be less likely to waste office staff time by ringing them looking for order updates. If further information is required, however, office staff have access to this live tracking screen also so they can then give the customer accurate information quickly. Automation-powered logistics management tools can boost customer satisfaction by 64%.
Once drivers complete their deliveries on the road, they are marked complete with proof-of-deliveries recorded on a central database. You can even have invoices automatically sent to your end customers once they have received their goods.
It’s clear that automation can bring about real benefits for businesses offering home delivery. Automation can give you a competitive advantage as demands continue to evolve. By using delivery automation software, companies can send out more deliveries per day without needing to increase the number of drivers and vans that they use. Increasing driver capacity, as a result, reduces fuel usage per delivery and ultimately makes the delivery process more efficient and profitable. This level of visibility that automation gives to everyone along the supply chain from the warehouse to the recipient, improves the overall delivery experience for both employees and customers.
When searching for tools make sure you look for those that provide the above benefits for your business. Many offer free trials to get you started.
David Walsh, CEO at SmartRoutes, which provides route planning, captures PODs, automates notifications and tracks your fleet – all in one platform.